Change Maker

Change Maker

5 Students Who
Kendra Lancaster

Kendra Lancaster

  • Marcelo José Castillo Rivas
  • Miranda McCormack
  • Lynette Flagge
  • Joseph Rust
  • Kendra Lancaster

Name: Kendra Lancaster
Graduate program: Youth Development and Agricultural Education
Year: Master’s student
Hometown: Westfield, Indiana

Nearly killed in a head-on car crash five months ago, Kendra is mending after her most recent surgery, and getting ready to compete in the Paralympics Games in August 2012. She’ll get her master’s in May, then train full time to compete on the United States Sitting Volleyball Team, in which all players sit on the floor and play with a low net. All Paralympics competitors are required to have some sort of physical disability, but to Kendra, being born without her left arm below the elbow is mostly just a detail.

A star athlete

“I never looked at myself as disabled. I played the sports that all the other kids did, and I excelled at them. When I began playing with this team it was really uncomfortable for me to be on the ‘disabled’ volleyball team. It was hard for me at first.”

Changing body and mind

“Sitting to play, my body was being used in ways that it was never used before. My body was so angry at me. My mom encouraged me to just do one more camp. If it weren’t for her, and my friend who is a leg amputee from bone cancer, I would have quit.”

Embracing Purdue

“My freshman year, my parents didn’t hear from me for a couple of weeks. I got to Purdue and said, ‘Peace out!’ and my parents had to basically make me come home for stuff! Being in the College of Ag and in animal sciences, the professors and classes are great. And my best friends in the whole world are friends I’ve met at Purdue.”

Horses and volleyball

“I’ve shown horses my whole life. I was very successful. I loved showmanship. It’s detail oriented and technical. That’s probably why I love volleyball so much — because it involves a lot of detail and technique.”

True tenacity

“I’ve always been an adapter because of how I grew up with my arm and everything. If there’s something that’s a challenge, I just take it by the horns and make it work for me. I’m also very outspoken. If I’m in a position where I think something needs to change, I’ll speak out about it.”

By Amy Raley
Published November 1, 2011

Kendra Lancaster